St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)

Christ beside me,  Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me. — Saint Patrick

On St. Patrick’s Day, the whole world wants to be Irish.  We wear green, we might go to a parade, we listen to the fife-and-drum corps, we hunt for shamrocks, we eat corned beef and cabbage and we might have a glass of green beer.

It’s a bit odd that we do this on St. Patrick’s Day in honor of a man who wasn’t even Irish!  Patrick’s story, however, is a story of a young man who didn’t hold a grudge and was able to turn a bad situation into a stunning victory for the gospel!

As a youth, Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland.  There, he worked as a slave for more than six years. He learned the language and in time came to appreciate his captors. The Irish then were considered barbarians who lived beyond the borders of civilization.

When Patrick was able to return to Britain, he went to Rome, was consecrated as a priest, and eventually returned to the very land where he’d been a captive. Not only did Patrick spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus through his preaching, but through his life as well. He practiced what he preached. That’s a good reminder for all of us.

–If we preach forgiveness, we should live forgiveness.

–If we preach love for one another, we should love one another.

–If we preach patience, we should live patience.

–If we preach humility, we should live humility.

Let’s thank God for Patrick of Ireland and the great work he did in his lifetime. And, let’s remember to follow his selfless example of letting go of grudges, injuries and complaints.

–Timothy Merrill (from HomeTouch Ministry.com, Sunday, March 17, 2019)

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More Than You Can Imagine…

We sometimes think that “imagination” means something escapist or illusory. Yet, imagination is not something unreal or fake.  It is essential to God’s hope for creation.  “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20-21).  God imagines a world where all are safe, all are loved, and all are fed.

When we use our imaginations in the way that God does, we can begin to envision–and work for! –a world…

where no child goes unfed, un-housed, or unloved; where no one ever fears abuse or           violence; where clean water is not a dream but a reality for all; where small farmers do their work with dignity and are paid a fair wage for their labors; where agricultural practices enrich and renew the land rather than deplete; where survivors of natural disasters have the resources they need, now and for years to come; where vulnerable immigrants are welcomed in Christ’s name.

Can you imagine these things?  Through your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing what we can imagine becomes ever more a reality for more and more people.

(quoted from the brochure, More than we can imagine)

 

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One Great Hour of Sharing Offering

On Sunday, March 31, a special offering will be collected for One Great Hour of Sharing.  Envelopes for the special offering will be placed in the March 24 bulletins.

One Great Hour of Sharing, as part of Our Churches Wider Mission, is the special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that carries God’s message of love and hope to people in crisis.  The UCC works with international partners to provide sources of clean water, food, education and health care, small business micro-credit, advocacy and resettlement for refugees and displaced persons, and emergency relief and rehabilitation. One Great Hour of Sharing also supports domestic and international ministries for disaster preparedness and response.

Through One Great Hour of Sharing, lives are literally changed daily. Your support provides clean water, food, medicines, shelter, healthcare, education and so much more. In 2017, the OGHS offering received over $2 million. Nearly sixty-five percent of UCC congregations participate annually.

On March 31, members and friends of the United Church of Christ will have the opportunity to respond to all of these needs through One Great Hour of Sharing. Let’s all give generously.

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Shoes That Grow

There are many children in the third-world, economically disadvantaged areas that have no shoes.  Through a project called “Shoes That Grow,” St. John’s would like to help children have shoes–perhaps for the first time ever!  The shoes are adjustable and “grow” as the child grows.  A sample of the shoes can be found on the table at the front of the sanctuary.

There are boxes for you to take to hold your loose change from each day, or you can place money in the container provided.  Each pair of shows costs $15.00.  How many pairs of shoes can we purchase?  Make this monetary donation the “thing” you have given up for Lent.  how about one candy bar a day, or a soda, or instead of eating out one evening, that money is donated to the shoe fund?  Let us all share in this project for Lent.

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Wilderness Companions (Luke 4:1-13)

Lent begins in the deserted wilderness, where we are given another opportunity to deepen our understanding of who Jesus is.  Today’s lesson is about the way and the why of the ministry of Jesus:  we might say that the ground rules are set.  The Son of God is not here to grab power for himself, or to show off how much he matters to God, or to work magic for the masses.  Jesus spends forty days struggling alone and wandering, tested by the seductive voice of evil that is backed up by scripture.  This reminds us how easily the Bible can be used for wrong purposes and to be mindful of seductively good things that can lead away from God.

Jesus leaves the wilderness, filled as always with the Holy Spirit, assured that he is God’s beloved, and ready for what lies ahead.  As our own Lenten journey begins, we, too, are sure of Jesus, our companion in whatever wilderness we face, and we walk with trust in him.

This Lent, contemplate tests you have faced in your journey of faith and what path you will take in the Lenten season ahead.  Even better than giving up chocolate, we might develop a daily spiritual practice of reflection on God’s provision, God’s abundance, and God’s power in our lives.

“The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.”  (Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island)

Take the UCC Environmental Justice Quiz!

Did you know that UCC ministers coined the phrase “environmental racism” and played a leading role in giving birth to the environmental justice movement in the 1980s?

During a six-week campaign of civil disobedience in 1982, a movement was born that made national headlines and introduced the world to the issue of environmental racism.

Did you know that the UCC is building a powerful environmental network that stays connected through a blog and e-newsletter called “The Pollinator?”

The Pollinator is a digital platform of the UCC for the sharing of ideas and inspiration, so that we might become more fruitful in the pursuit of environmental justice.  Its focus is the building of a faith-filled and faith-rooted movement for the care of creation.

Did you know that UCC churches are deepening and expanding their commitment to the environment by becoming Creation Justice Churches?

Whether it is taking on climate change or addressing the lead poisoning of children, environmental justice ministries could not have a higher purpose or calling than they do now.

Learnmore at ucc.org/environmental-ministries and get involved.

 

 

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Lenten Observances

Beginning on Wednesday, March 13, and continuing for the next four weeks after that, a light meal and short devotion will be held at Emmanuel UCC with our Presbyterian friends also being invited. The entire experience will last no longer than one hour, and will begin at 6 p.m.

A joint Maundy Thursday service, with Emmanuel UCC and Bluffton Presbyterian, takes place on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m.  The traditional Tenebrae service includes Holy Communion and will be held at St. John’s UCC.  All are welcome to attend.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for March 17:  Loving God, you bring light to our days and hope to our hearts. We draw near to you as survivors of another week, grateful for your care. You have provided for us, preserved our lives, and invited us once more to this time of worship.  Now we would be still before you leaving behind our distress and anger and entrusting our weaknesses to your empowering spirit.  Raise us up to embrace your way of love.  In the name of Christ, we pray.  Amen.

 

Sunday, March 17–Worship 10:30 a.m.; Pastor Carol’s meditation is titled “Are You a Fox or a Hen?”, and is based on Luke 13:31-35.  The choir will sing “Be Still and Know” by Ruth E. Schram.  A “Eat-It-Up” luncheon follows the worship service.

Tuesday, March 20–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.; Lenten midweek service at Emmanuel UCC, 6 p.m.; choir practice, 7:15 p.m.

Thursday, March 21–Community dinner at Senior Center, 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 24–Board of Christian Ed meets after worship

 

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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  March 26, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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